BOSTON – Blues phenom Robert Thomas will miss his first playoff game, and it couldn’t arrive at a worse time.
The 19-year-old has missed several practices nursing an undisclosed injury. He also was rocked in the third period of Game 1 by a thunderous Torey Krug body-check that instantly became the stuff of Boston sports lore.
Blues coach Craig Berube said he decided Tuesday that Thomas was unfit to play but that the winger’s injury is unrelated to the Krug blow.
“The hit didn’t bother him. I’m not gonna come up here and complain about hits and penalties and things like that,” said Berube, who played the game like a sledgehammer.
“It’s the Stanley Cup Final. It’s gonna be hard hockey.”
With Thomas sidelined, Robby Fabbri is expected to draw in alongside Tyler Bozak and Oskar Sundqvist on the third line — although Berube called Fabbri, who has one goal in eight playoff appearances, a game-time decision.
“Tommer is going through some stuff. He’s a tough kid. Battling a lot of stuff. Still getting out there and playing hard. But we’ve got a lot of depth, so that’s a good problem to have,” Bozak said.
“[Fabbri] is a similar player to Thomas. Obviously different hands, but both a lot of speed, both really good with the puck and can make plays.”
Where in the world is Tim Thomas?
In further Thomas news, the phrase “Tim Thomas” was trending Tuesday because the 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner was conspicuously absent from that championship team’s eight-year reunion here in Boston.
Multiple outlets and reporters have been unsuccessful in their attempts to track down the goaltender for comment.
Dunn is still not ready for action
The Bruins thrived in Game 1 in large part because of an active, offensive punch provided by their blue line, getting goals from both Charlie McAvoy and Connor Clifton when they jumped up in the play.
St. Louis could use some of that, too, so it’s unfortunate that the speedy Vince Dunn — who has seven points in this post-season — will miss his fifth consecutive game since taking a hard Brendan Dillon shot to the face in the Western Conference final.
Dunn practiced Tuesday for the fourth day in row. He was wearing a tinted shield.
“Dunner’s a good puck mover for sure, can skate and get up the ice, he does a lot of good things with the puck,” Berube said. “We love him in there. He’s not available right now.”
Krug drawing agitator powers from Marchand’s T-shirt?
One day on the road Krug couldn’t find his No. 47 Bruins tee to wear underneath his gear, so he pilfered one from Brad Marchand. He’s been wearing it ever since.
“I couldn’t find it one day and I saw him wearing it. He stole it from me. Sixty-three. It’s a little big for him. But he fits in it,” cracked Marchand, who has noticed that Krug has been getting under opponents’ skin since the switch. “You know he’s rocking my shirt under his jersey, so I don’t know if he’s just trying to buy in to all of that. He’s doing a good job.”
Krug says he keeps rocking Marchand’s shirt “in hopes that some of his skill and his determination will rub off” and wonders if the fabric might hold some super powers.
“I don’t know. He’s the superhero guy. He’s into the Avengers and all that stuff. I’m not,” Krug says. “Figuratively speaking and literally, he gave me the shirt off his back. That’s the type of guy he is, and that’s the type of guy he wants to be. You can go to him for everything.”
Binnington casually wonders if Krug is ‘on something’
Seconds after he delivered The Hit, Krug skated by Jordan Binnington’s net and gazed directly into the goaltender’s eyes.
“It was more a stare. His pupils were pretty big. I don’t know if he’s on something, but he was pretty fired up,” Binnington said.
A 100 per cent chance the Blues don’t give a hoot about your 77.2 per cent
Odds dictate that 77.2 per cent of teams that win Game 1 of the Cup Final go on to drink from the chalice.
“I think that’s why you guys are doing the stats and we just play on the ice,” Vladimir Tarasenko sloughs off. “It don’t really matter this part of year. You never know what’s gonna happen. Yeah, stats is like this and it’s happened before, but there are teams like Washington [which went down 1-0 to Vegas] last year — they proved it can be different way.
“This is on your side to tell some cool stats and everything else. But that’s not in our heads.”
St. Louis forward David Perron was on that Golden Knights squad that won Game 1 in the final before the Capitals seized control.
“I know it’s possible,” Perron said. “We won the first game, and then we lost four straight.”
St. Louis has won each of its last three contests after a loss, with an overall mark of 5-2 in that scenario this postseason. The Blues also fell behind in their series with Dallas and San Jose before rallying to victory.
At the NHL level, Binnington is 11-2-0 following a loss, with a 1.81 goals-against average and .936 save percentage
“Every series I’ve seen or been a part of has been completely different. There’s stats that you see all the time for different things, but we know what our best game looks like and we’re confident we can win,” Ryan O’Reilly said.
“We’re gonna respond and tie the series up.”